AbstractAcoustic emission (AE) and radial dimensional changes during dehydration under ambient conditions were compared between fully saturated fresh Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) sapwood and sapwood exposed to one or two rewetting-dehydration cycles. The aim of the study was to find out whether AE detected by wideband transducers (100 to 1000 kHz) gives useful information about the mechanical stresses generated during dehydration of small sapwood specimens. AE activity and peak amplitudes became lower after each dehydration-rewetting run. During the first dehydration run the highest peak amplitudes were detected at moderate moisture loss, whereas rewetted wood peaked towards the end of dehydration. AE of fresh, never-dried sapwood was also characterized by a higher count rate of low frequency AE (<175 kHz). Differences in amplitude and frequency clusters between small earlywood and latewood specimens suggest that earlywood is much more sensitive to irreversible processes upon drying than latewood, which might be related to pit functioning and shrinkage anisotropy. At moderate moisture loss, fresh, never-dried sapwood showed higher radial dimensional changes compared to re-wetted sapwood. If it is assumed that fresh, never-dried sapwood is more prone to dehydration stresses than pre-dried sapwood, critical stages during drying can be characterized by high mean peak amplitudes and by a higher count rate of low frequency AE.